WASHINGTON – Today, the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved a bill to strengthen the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) ability to combat terrorist groups’ efforts to recruit Americans and encourage them to carry out attacks on our soil. The bill, introduced by Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-Del.), was approved by voice vote and will now go to the full Senate for further consideration.
“As the recent tragedy in San Bernardino, California underscores, one of the greatest threats we face is homegrown terrorism and self-radicalization,” said Sen. Carper. “This legislation would work to destroy ISIS and other terrorist groups’ influence by countering their twisted message and inoculating against efforts to radicalize our own people here in the United States. As we continue to degrade and destroy ISIS on the battlefield, we must also win the war of words and ideas, and dispel the narrative that ‘ISIS is on the rise.’ The Office for Partnerships Against Violent Extremism would reach out to communities throughout the country and work with local officials, faith leaders, and parents to combat terrorist groups’ efforts to radicalize and recruit young Americans.”
Specifically, S.2522 would:
- Establish the Office for Partnerships Against Violent Extremism at the Department of Homeland Security. The new office would direct the government’s countering violent extremism efforts and engage local communities to help them understand and counteract radicalization and violent extremism, including the hateful propaganda of ISIS;
- Establish an Assistant Secretary for Partnerships Against Violent Extremism who will directly report to the Secretary of Homeland Security on the Department’s progress toward ending the recruitment of Americans by terrorist groups;
- Require the DHS Secretary to submit a strategy for countering violent extremism that includes, among other things, the Department’s plans for countering the social media abilities of terrorist groups, a description of how the Department will ensure that civil rights and civil liberties are protected, and how the Department will measure the office’s performance and success;
- Require the DHS Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) to conduct an annual review to ensure the Office of Partnerships Against Violent Extremism it is not abridging Americans’ rights or specifically targeting any demographic.